Grace Siehler is a driving force for the South Carroll girls indoor track team.
Cavaliers coach Joe Murray said her focus and determination feeds off on the rest of the team and those qualities helped the Cavaliers capture their first indoor state championship in program history at Prince George’s Sports and Learning Center last month.
Siehler, the Times Girls Indoor Track Athlete of the Year, won individual county titles in the 800- and 1,600-meter runs, and captured Class 2A West and state titles in the 1,600 as well. Her state championship-winning 1,600 time of 5 minutes, 13.77 seconds was a personal record for the junior and the fastest all-time for a South Carroll athlete.
It’s also the fifth fastest time in Carroll County.
“We knew that we had a good chance at coming out on top or being at the top based on the competition in the state,” Siehler said. “I think everybody was working in their own disciplines and we had specialized workouts for everyone so that way all the pieces could come together.”
Siehler ran a leg on the Cavaliers’ 4x400 relay that finished third at states in 4:08.31, good for the fastest all-time for South Carroll and second all-time in Carroll. It ended up being the deciding factor in the team’s state championship victory.
Freshman Lauren Chesney ran the first leg, followed by Siehler, junior Amy Salindong, and sophomore Madelyn Boyce anchored the team.
“Our coaches play a big role and they know our individual strengths,” Siehler said. “This relay team is super fun … We shaved off, I want to say, eight seconds from our time at regionals and we all ran a lot faster. That was something to be proud of, especially at the end of a very long day.”
South Carroll took 10 athletes to states and the team scores remained close throughout the between the Cavaliers, Harford Tech, Seneca Valley, Century, and Frederick Douglass. The Cavaliers took home the trophy with 46 points, one-half point ahead of Harford Tech.
Siehler was the team’s lone individual champion, but SC had three third-place finishes, three fourth-place finishes and one sixth-place finish to account for the championship.
“I think to make up for the depth we don’t necessarily have compared to the other teams, we have a good core group of girls and have a lot of distance runners now,” Siehler said. “I think that has really helped our mid-distance relays like the 4x400 and 4x800, which were both third and everyone pulled their own weight.
“It came together really well and we couldn’t have won without those relays.”
Murray said he got his first good look at Siehler’s talent when she helped the cross country team post a perfect score (15 points) at a quad meet the team hosted in 2017. Siehler was injured during her sophomore cross country season, but returned for indoor track and continued to improve.
She earned Times Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year honors last fall after she won county and regional titles. She also finished third in the state prior to entering this indoor season.
“The kids come out every day and see her work ethic and her determination and focus and they key off of that,” Murray said. “When you have somebody like that who is really determined and dedicated to a particular sport, that can change and one person can make a huge difference in the morale and ethos of that particular team.”
Siehler said she runs a lot of workouts on her own at practice to develop a routine and pace for every event and Murray said he would try to get her to rest as much as possible.
“My coach and I both love going on MileSplit.com and looking at other girls and how they’re doing,” Siehler said. “We watch race videos and stuff and for outdoors, we’re going to some bigger meets in the state this year for competition … I’ve gotten used to looking at my watch and clicking off the paces.